We are back! We had a wonderful trip to Turkey for Spring Break. Perfectly delightful! Now, I must admit. We could have been anywhere in the world that had a beach and nice weather and I would tell you it was an awesome vacation. That is how badly I needed a break! But, lots of things can make or break a vacation, regardless of where you decide to take yourselves. All in all, the planets aligned for the Haverkampfs in Turkey, making it a trip to remember.
Some Trip Highlights:
OK, this isn't a highlight - more of an interesting occurrence. On the way to Paris to catch our flight to Turkey, I was pulled over by the Gendarmarie (the 5.0 in France). I knew it was a matter of time before I got pulled over - every day was a gamble on the roadways. This day was my lucky day! I had no idea what my offense was, but they had been tailgating me for a few miles and it seemed imminent that I had done something wrong. They pulled me over into a rest stop and while the girls and Andrew sat quietly in the CTA bus, I was administered a breathalyzer! It was 11:30 a.m.! Man, I thought, I must really be a bad driver to get tested for alcohol before the noon bell rings. Even though I knew I would pass this first time ever breathalyzer test with flying colors, I still had a hard time staying cool and collected. It made me nervous! I did pass the test, as expected, but take this as a warning to any of you who may visit France. Don't drink and drive and don't assume you seem less suspicious because it is day time! The officer drew me a picture of my offense which was I pulled over to the next lane to pass a truck and in the process I cut off a car that was going a million miles an hour - so fast I didn't even see him in my rearview mirror. People drive so fast here! I knew the circumstance which he was describing, I fessed up to my improper driving behavior, and he let me go with a verbal warning. Needless to say, I was a little shaken up so I had Andrew take the wheel for the rest of the drive to Paris.
Before we left for Turkey, we visited the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Gardens. The Eiffel Tower was amazing, as always. The lines to go up into the tower were crazy - completely impossible to wait for with three small, antsy children. That is why we just walked around, rode a few carousels, and admired the pretty views. The next day, we visited Luxembourg Gardens. It was a huge, beautiful park that had a monstrous kids park, a huge fountain that you can rent tiny boats and sail, and sculptures and gardens that went on forever. These were perfect little trips to fit in just before we had to catch our flight to Turkey from CDG Airport in Paris.
I'll skip over the details of traveling to Turkey, as they are boring and just what you might expect. Lots of waiting, car sickness, whining, long bus rides and a late arrival to the resort. We got to Club Med so late that it was pretty much straight to bed when we arrived.
This Club Med Palmiye in Turkey was just awesome. The kids club was perfect for all three of our children - we felt comfortable leaving them there which allowed Andrew and I to relax. The weather was awesome - sunny pretty much all of the time. The food was actually very good. The house drinks (wine, beer, etc...) were really good. The staff was very friendly. The grounds were always clean. The landscaping was so pretty. The guests we met were from all over the world and everyone we met was amiable. The night-time entertainment was actually entertaining and creative. And it was just a 4 hour flight from Paris. Our only complaints about our trip were that the nights were chilly and we didn't really have enough proper clothing, the pools were pretty cold (I only went in a pool twice, briefly) so the kids got cold really fast, we really wished we had a sitting room in our bungalow (instead of just bedrooms), and there was a persistent mildewy smell in our bungalow. But, we made do with our clothes and we spent truly little time in our room except to shower and sleep. I almost hesitate to go anywhere else for a Club Med vacation as I don't expect it could be any better!
In the middle of our vacation, Ella met a new friend at the pool. We then met her friend's parents and we ended up making quick friends with with family from Ireland. They had an almost 3 year old, a 6 year old and an 8 year old. They kids had a blast together and Andrew and I really enjoyed their parent's company. We had drink and dinner buddies for many nights after that. Ella and her new friend (a boy) were practically attached at the hip from the start. It truly was so cute. They were dancing, stealing away moments of privacy to talk, looking at Turkish market stands and picking out jewelry for each other and were just plain googly-eyed! One day, I took them to see a show that Grace and Mia's class were putting on inside the hotel. The lights were down and Ella and her friend sat in the row in front of me. After watching the show for a few moments, I glanced ahead of me only to see the two of them holding hands. I than saw Ella and her friend look at each other and awkwardly lean in to give each other a kiss. I didn't say a word about it to them, but oh how I wished Andrew and my best girl friends were there to see this precious moment. It made my heart hurt, it was so cute!
Our trip back from Turkey to Paris was much the same as the way there. We didn't get back into Paris until 3:00 a.m. so we were quite happy with our previous decision to reserve a hotel room at the airport. We slept until later in the morning and then went to visit The Palace of Versailles. Again, the weather was cold and rainy and the line to get inside the Palace was impossible to wait in with three small children. So we walked around the gardens, instead. Andrew and I both agree that this is one of the most amazing places we have ever seen. Beautiful green gardens go on forever. Fountains of all shapes and sizes are hidden around every corner. There are boats you can rent to meander around the big lake which the girls thought were the most fun they have ever had. Joggers were everywhere - I was jealous of their beautiful surroundings they got to enjoy during their exercise. Classical music was booming from large speakers throughout the whole grounds. The sculpted trees and bushes were perfectly maintained and the boxwood smell was everywhere. Our vacation in Turkey was really great, but this trip to Versailles was one of the highlights of our vacation - and totally unexpected! The best part is that we can come back as we never even made it inside the actual palace yet.
We arrived home late last night, just in time for a quick bite and bed. The girls were saying the whole way home that they were excited to get home and this time they were referring to the apartment in Caen instead of Crested Butte. So, we have made some progress in that they now think of Caen as a home.
Pictured above: Ella on the trapeze at Club Med; Andrew and the girls looking up at the Eiffel Tower; Poolside at Club Med; Ella and her friend dancing; Andrew and the girls looking at the huge grounds at Versailles.